HOUSTON, Texas – Monica Rivera’s left shoulder was slathered in salve, protecting a freshly-inked tattoo.

“We’re the Magnificent Seven,” she smiled, referring to her American Red Cross team.  “Everyone’s designing their own tattoo.”

Monica 3
Monica Rivera, Sheltering Lead, Hurricane Harvey Disaster Response sports a new tattoo, to signify the bond she feels with her Red Cross Team. (Red Cross photo by Jim McIntyre)

Monica is the sheltering leader for the Red Cross response to Hurricane Harvey.  It’s her job to make sure everyone who needs a safe place to stay has one, and to staff the shelters with trained Red Cross workers.

Her emergency management experience began in the Air Force, where she served from 2001 to 2006. It continued when she began to volunteer with CERT, the Community Emergency Response Team in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.

“It was there that I really became interested in responding to disasters, helping others in their time of need,” she said.  That led her to the Red Cross, and the “Magnificent Seven” team.  And the tattoos.

“I’m the lion.  I’m represented by a paw.  There’s also an anchor, a tree, a shepherd’s crook, water, a beacon and a dove, all representing different members of the team.”
The symbols surround a Red Cross, which brought them all together.  They’re among the more than 2,000 Red Cross responders from across the state and across the country who have provided shelter, food, health and mental health care, clean-up supplies and recovery planning support to tens of thousands of Texans impacted by Hurricane Harvey.